User experience consultants can, from time to time, be embedded in companies with little to no UX (User Experience) knowledge. We’re tasked with not only explaining the merits of UX as a whole, but the reasoning behind each individual activity and what insights they are expected to produce. Further to this, time pressures mean we are constantly searching for activities that deliver “bang for buck” and make the most use of limited stakeholder and end-user availability. Therefore our focus is on ensuring our processes are easily understood, repeatable, quickly undertaken, and repeatable.
As part of this, we’re trialling a new idea to make user journey mapping easier to visualise and collaborate on. And that’s the use of emoji.
What is User Journey Mapping
For the uninitiated, a user research phase involves not only understanding who the archetypal users are, but their typical goals, struggles and paths to success. An important tool in plotting the interactions these users have is the user journey map, also referred to as a customer journey map in different contexts. While the criteria tracked throughout a user journey may differ from project to project, they generally depict a left to right progression through actions and influences, plotted against the users emotional state and reactions.
The value of this process comes from highlighting key touch points where the user is frustrated, disappointed or confused — and exploring ways to resolve this. In it’s simplest form, a user journey map should at least visualise where that frown needs to be turned upside down.
Why You Should Use Emoji
Now I’m not proposing we whip out our eggplants just yet, but there are a few reasons I feel emoji stickers would change the way you draw user journey maps for the better.
Firstly, they’re instantly recognisable. The core set of facial expressions can denote anger, tiredness, joy, stress and more. How many of us can freehand a contemplative face?
Secondly, they’re versatile. Are you also mapping triggers like email notifications? Emoji has those. Has the end user gone nuclear and posted a scathing review to Yelp? Emoji has that too.
Thirdly, they’re pretty cheap. Head on over to Ali Express and buy a 10 sheet pack for somewhere in the vicinity of $2.00.
But lastly, a word of caution. Communicating in these consulting environments is about making yourself understood. You may know what an Emoji “100” represents, but your C-level stakeholders probably have no idea. Keep to the vanilla set of iconography and “emoticon” style faces and you will have a better chance of getting your point across. I’m a 20-something with an iPhone and I still have no idea what a “100” means, but this idea seems pretty “100”, I’m told.